Pakistan vs Australia: Shadab Khan injury depletes host’s spin attack
Shadab Khan will not add to his four Test caps on account of a groin injury. @Getty

The legspinner Shadab Khan has all but been confirmed unavailable for the first Test between Pakistan and Australia in Dubai from Sunday, with news that he has not fully recovered from the groin injury sustained during the recent Asia Cup.

This has denied Pakistan the chance to field two wrist-spinners, with Yasir Shah being called on by the captain Sarfraz Ahmed to attack a new-look Australian batting lineup. Yasir has not played a Test since October 2017 and now finds himself back as Pakistan’s strike bowler, with the uncapped offspinner Bilal Asif set for a likely debut and Mohammad Hafeez the third slow-bowling option.

“When we played Australia in 2014 we played some attacking cricket,” Sarfraz told reporters on Friday. “Yasir is our main bowler so we will want him to attack and get us wickets to win the series But similarly we will not put extra pressure on him and will not want him to go in a defensive mode so other bowlers will have to support him.”

Asif, 33, last played an ODI in 2015 while Hafeez, who has not played one since 2016, finds himself in line for a recall against an Australian line-up with three left-hand batsman.

Pakistan are hopeful of Shadab returning for the second Test in Abu Dhabi. His all-round services will be missed, given how well he performed in the 1-1 Test series draw in England in May-June. Shadab impressed with his legspin and scored three fifties in the Tests.